Archive for January, 2012

How Would John Harbaugh's Personnel Decisions Go Over in Corporate America?

January 31, 2012

What if John Harbaugh worked for you? Well, unless you work in the front office of the Baltimore Ravens and are currently reading this post — he doesn’t. But let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that you are Ozzie Newsome.

While the Baltimore Ravens are an escape for most residents in Baltimore, they’re also a billion dollar business. Besides smoking cigars at his office while counting his billions, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti looks at this franchise as a business and has done a marvelous job appointing people to run his company.

While still in shock of what may very well have been the worst week of Ravens history, I removed myself from the knee jerk reactions for a few moments and went back to my normal sales job. As I dealt with my own management team barking orders at me, it got me thinking.

Are the Ravens and John Harbaugh exempt from the same business decisions as those in corporate America?

What if John Harbaugh and the Ravens coaching staff worked for you? For this analogy, let’s look at it from the viewpoint of corporate America. Even if you’re not in sales, this analogy could probably relate to most any job.

For any corporation to turn a profit, they must increase revenue over that of their expenses. So for this corporation (Baltimore Ravens), turning a profit will depend on the strength of the Director of Sales (Head Coach),from whom the company’s message is then passed down to the management team (Coordinators) and then communicated to the sales team (Ravens Players).

The Director of Sales is hired by upper management (Ozzie Newsome) based on the confidence that they put your organization in the best hands to achieve their goal (Super Bowl). It is up to that Director of Sales to hire staff that he/she sees best qualified to make them successful. Ultimately, the Director of Sales’ (John Harbaugh) name is attached to the success or failure of the organization.

As in any company, if you don’t perform to your expectations, you are warned and reprimanded. For the Ravens, if their players aren’t performing to expectations, it’s up to their managers (Coordinators) to bench them or eventually make a decision to fire (release) them.

From a management perspective, it’s up to the manager (coordinator) to determine the group of salesmen (players) who will impact revenue (wins/success) as much as possible. It’s also the management’s (Coordinators) duty to train sales staff (players) on the marketplace (NFL Opponents) and what advantages you have (game plan) on the competition.

If specific managers (Cam Cameron or Jerry Rosberg) don’t create enough of an impact on their employees (Offense or Special Teams), they are to be held accountable for their misfortunes by their manager, the Director of Sales (John Harbaugh).

In any organization there is turnover. Some of it happens to be voluntary to leave for better opportunities. The Ravens got a taste of that when Chuck Pagano was hired as the new Director of Sales (Head Coach) of the Indianapolis Colts. If someone on your staff has performed above expectations, they are able to be promoted from within the company, which is what the Ravens did when they appointed Dean Pees as the new Defensive Coordinator.

The Baltimore Ravens are a contracted sales force. The main issue I have is that a thorough evaluation needs to take place to on the progress and development of their staff before a coordinator has their contract renewed.

For John Harbaugh to say that Cam Cameron would be retained is a foregone conclusion when Cam himself wasn’t even sure if he’d be retained is ludicrous.

This delusional Director of Sales said that his manager helped his sales team “flourish” in 2011. The four years Cam has been at the helm of the Ravens offense, the team has finished 18th, 13th, 22nd and 15th overall respectively. I don’t know what type of person gets to the position of Director of Sales accepting mediocrity. Last time I checked, 15th is middle of the road as far as total NFL rankings go.

With all this being said, for Harbaugh to say, “I don’t know that an announcement is necessary” after all the criticism from the media, fans, and his own players is just asinine and, to be honest, condescending and insulting.

If Billy Cundiff gets invited back to training camp after his atrocious season and has to kick for his job then Cam Cameron should be held to the same standards with his.

Anyone who’s ever been a part of a large company knows the “Crap Flows Downstream” motif. Sadly for the Ravens, it looks like horrific staff decisions are flowing downstream and it’s affecting on field production.

The team has already said that in retaining Cameron, a quarterbacks coach must be hired as well. Today, the Ravens announced that former Colts head coach Jim Caldwell will the team’s new Quarterbacks coach. Caldwell will report to Cameron.

Hiring Caldwell into the Ravens organization is equivalent to a motivational speaker in the corporate world. It may temporarily have an impact on the employees but for the most part it’s a temporary fix. All that Caldwell will do is keep some people off of Cameron’s back this offseason as the team prepares for anther mediocre performance on offense.

Cameron has shown he doesn’t respect the thoughts of anyone else on the offense (see: Jim Zorn) and Caldwell won’t come in and change around Cameron’s play book of Pop Warner passing routes.

In real life, some horrible managers may still win awards because they’re bailed out by great performances from talented employees; this could be said about Cameron ‘s tenure in Baltimore.

For the Director of Sales (Harbaugh) to retain a manager (Cameron) who’s never had a top 10 sales team (Offense) shows a problem with accountability at one of the highest levels of the organization. The fact that Harbaugh has turned a blind eye to those areas that have really struggled (Offensive Line, Special Teams and Offensive Coordinator) he may have created a hot seat for himself.

Ultimately, any business owner or upper management figure lives and dies by the performance of those he employs. If Harbaugh stays status quo or worse, there is a good chance that the customers of this corporation will react with their wallets, thus forcing  1 Winning Drive to have a makeover. If that happens, there could very well be a banner that says “Under New Management” within the next two seasons.


Reports: Ravens to Hire Jim Caldwell as Quarterbacks Coach

January 30, 2012

Reports are surfacing this morning that the Ravens are set to hire former Indianapolis Colts’ head coach Jim Caldwell as quarterbacks coach.

Caldwell, 57, was the quarterbacks coach in Indy from 2002-2008. How much he actually had to do with the success of one of the greatest football throwers of all time is certainly up for debate.

My reaction to the news can best be summarized as:


Pagano Going to Indy Anyway, Cameron…STAYING?!

January 26, 2012

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the Ravens’ season came to pretty much the most disappointing end possible on Sunday evening, now the offseason appears to be getting off to just as horrible of a start.

Entering the 2012 campaign, the #1 priority on the wish list of most Ravens fans is to see the team part ways with Cam Cameron and bring in a new offensive coordinator. A close second – as far as coaches go – would have been to retain defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who returned the team to their aggressive ways and led the unit to the #3 overall ranking in the NFL.

Well, it was reported late Wednesday afternoon that Pagano will be hired as the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, after just a single year as coordinator. While Pagano was expected to get a sniff or two from teams looking to hire head coaches, most in Baltimore assumed that he was not quite ready to make that particular jump, and that he would return to the Ravens.

Ready or not though, it seems as if the possibility of Pagano/Luck becoming the next Belichick/Brady was just too much for Pagano to pass up.

Chuck Pagano is going to Indianapolis, just without the Ravens.

With Chuck joining the ranks of Marvin Lewis, Jack Del Rio, Mike Singletary, Mike Nolan, and Rex Ryan as defensive coaches that Ray Lewis/Ed Reed have gotten head coaching gigs, linebackers coach Dean Pees – a former New England Patriots defensive coordinator – seems to be the favorite in the locker room to succeed him on Baltimore’s staff.

Damn it.

On the other side of the ball, things look to be developing in an even more frustrating manner this week. In the Baltimore Sun today, Mike Preston is saying that Cameron is likely to return in 2012.

Meanwhile, according to a league source, Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron called the offensive assistants Wednesday morning and gave them instructions for the upcoming weeks, a sign that he will return next season.

Neither Cameron nor Ravens head coach John Harbaugh returned phone calls Wednesday night, but the source was confident that Cameron would serve in the same capacity with the only stipulation the Ravens hire a quarterbacks coach. Cameron served in both roles last season.


If you’re looking for someone to make some sense out of this, you’ll have to go elsewhere, because I am baffled. It was just last season that the team decided to FIRE quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn because they wanted Cameron and Joe Flacco to work more closely together. Now a year later they are deciding to keep Cam, only to throw another level of separation between him and Joe?

If you’re thinking “we’re spinning our wheels here, aren’t we?” I’m right there with you.

As fellow Ravens blogger extraordinaire Tony Lombardi points out over at Ravens 24×7, we really have no reason to believe that the offense will EVER improve from its current mediocre standing under Cameron.

Since Cam Cameron joined the Ravens coaching ranks in 2008, his offenses have ranked 18, 13, 22 and 15 overall in yardage. His passing offenses have ranked 28, 18, 20 and 19.

Prior to joining the Ravens and dating back to 2002 Cameron led offenses ranked 16, 14, 10, 10, 4 and 28 overall and 22, 19, 16, 12, 16 and 24 passing.

Is there any real evidence there that might suggest that Cameron can pilot even an above average offense or passing attack?

No, Tony, there’s not.

And I’ll tell you this – if this organization does indeed decide to retain Cameron, I will – for the first time that I can remember – lose a bit of respect for everybody involved, from owner Steve Bisciotti down to head coach John Harbaugh.

Can Cameron. Just do it.


GOOBVISION – AFC Championship Recap

January 24, 2012

In easily the most somber GOOBVISION to date, Goob looks back on the heart-wrenching AFC Championship loss to the Patriots.

Patriots 23 Ravens 20 (The MOST AGONIZING LOSS IN TEAM HISTORY Game)

January 23, 2012

Not like that.

Not. Like. That.

That’s the mantra I just kept repeating to myself over and over, for a good 30 minutes after the clock struck zero on the AFC Championship game, and on the Baltimore Ravens 2011-12 season.

It can’t end like that. A 45-10 beating like the Patriots handed the Denver Broncos a week earlier would have been infinitely easier to swallow.

Instead, to drive nearly 80 yards in the game’s final two minutes, only to have the potential game-winning touchdown pass dropped in the end zone and then the game-tying field goal flutter wide left from only 32 yards out?

This game will go down in infamy in Baltimore. Hell, I had Steelers fans on twitter after the game telling me they wouldn’t wish that kind of loss upon their worst enemy.

Sympathy from Steelers fans.

You know it’s bad.

If Lee Evans could have held onto that ball, we’d all be worshiping at the altar of Joe Flacco this morning. Sure, I’ve heard that the Patriots’ DB made a great play to strip the ball from Evans’ grip, and that’s true. Another case of “the other guy tries too.” But for Evans, the forgotten man on the Ravens’ WR corps all season, who had come to Baltimore after never playing a postseason game in his NFL career, this was the catch of his life.

It should have taken New England’s entire 53-man roster, plus every coach, trainer, ball boy, and front office member to pry that ball from #83’s fingers.

Pull it in. Fall down. That’s the ball game. The Ravens are headed to Indy.

Instead, the Ravens for some reason eschewed trying to simply pick up a yard on 3rd-and-1, which would have given them several more shots at the end zone. An incomplete pass later, the field goal team was – for some unknown reason – rushing onto the field to attempt to send the contest to overtime.

Meanwhile, the Ravens’ third and final timeout sits unused. Still.

After the game, John Harbaugh said that using the timeout never occurred to him.

Good to know.

Flacco, for his part, played the game of his life. Under intense pressure to perform (some of that pressure of his own doing), he did just that. The Ravens’ quarterback was 22/36 for 306 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Granted, he missed some throws. He should have had Torrey Smith for a long touchdown in the first quarter, but instead of planting his feet and launching it, threw on the run, and Smith had to come back to the ball.

Later, after the Ravens had recovered a Danny Woodhead kickoff return fumble, Flacco had Vonta Leach in the flat for a likely touchdown. Instead, he threw to the end zone for Kris Wilson, the pass fell incomplete, and the Ravens had to settle for a field goal to take a 20-16 lead.

As we saw, those four points would loom large.

The Ravens’ defense played well, intercepting Tom Brady twice and holding him without a touchdown throw. However, New England was able to run the ball effectively, picking up 96 yards on the ground. They got a yard when they needed it most, scoring on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter to regain a lead they would not again relinquish.

And just like that, it was over.

In Baltimore, we’ll always remember. “Lee Evans, Billy Cundiff” will forever bring back terrible memories of a day when our season was again, ended prematurely. When again, we seemed to have the better team only to watch them fail in the game’s final moments.

We can talk more about it later.

Right now, the pain is just too fresh.

Not like that.

AFC Championship Preview – Ravens (13-4) @ Patriots (14-3)

January 20, 2012

Going back to the days of Brian Billick, it’s been a staple of Baltimore Ravens teams: they play better as the underdog. Linebacker Jarret Johnson, a Raven since 2003, admitted as much during an interview this week, and any devoted purple faithful can attest to it – they’ve just never handled being the favorite well. They’ll have to continue that tradition on Sunday, as the New England Patriots enter the AFC Championship game as touchdown (or more, depending on who you ask) favorites.

Many are pointing to the Ravens’ 33-14 win at Foxboro in the 2009 Wild Card game as evidence that the Ravens can go to New England and get the job done. However, that game seems more like an aberration than the norm, especially when you consider other recent Ravens-Patriots contests. Aside from that game, the other two times these teams have played since 2009 both came down to the wire. In the 2009 regular season, the Ravens were a Mark Clayton dropped pass on 4th down in the final moments away from a 1st-and-goal situation needing only a touchdown and an extra point to come away with a 28-27 victory. In the 2010 regular season, the Ravens took a 20-10 lead into the fourth quarter only to see Tom Brady will his team to 13 unanswered points and a Steven Gostkowski game-winning field goal at the two minute warning of overtime.

These teams play close games. Expect a tight one Sunday.

On the other side, most national – and even some local – pundits are already dismissing the Ravens, based solely on their relatively “poor” showing against the Houston Texans last week in the Divisional Round. However, anybody that watches the Ravens regularly – especially this year – knows that what happens one week has very little bearing on what transpires the next.

This is a team that beat Pittsburgh 35-7, then lost at Tennessee 26-13, then pasted St. Louis 37-7 to start the year. They had a terrible loss in Seattle sandwiched by key divisional wins in Pittsburgh and against Cincinnati. The Ravens got physically whooped at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball against the Texans. What eases my mind is that not only is that an extremely rare occurrence for the Ravens, but it’s almost unheard of for it to happen two weeks in a row. They’ll be going up against a New England squad that is much more known for their finesse than their physicality, so the Ravens’ heavies that got their feelings hurt last week should be up for the challenge of having a solid rebound game.

And they’ll need to – again, on both sides. On offense, they’ll need to do a much better job of opening up holes for Ray Rice and Ricky Williams to control the clock and keep Brady and his arsenal on the sidelines. They’ll need to protect Joe Flacco a lot better against a Pats’ pass rush that racked up 40 sacks during the regular season, and give him time to make throws to move the chains and take shots down the field to Torrey Smith or Lee Evans when they present themselves.

On defense, linemen Haloti Ngata, Pernell McPhee, and Cory Redding, and linebackers Johnson, Terrell Suggs, and Paul Kruger will have to do a much better job of getting in Brady’s face than they did against T.J. Yates. Suggs has historically been a monster against New England and his favorite “pretty boy” Brady, and he’ll need to continue that string of dominance. In the past, the Ravens have had great success in getting Brady uncomfortable in the pocket. Even former defensive coordinator Greg Mattison had Brady on the run the last time these teams met, only to revert to his patented 3-man rush at the worst possible times.

Inconsistent or non-existent pressure on Brady will is a recipe for disaster against New England, as it has been for years now. The Patriots’ offense boasts dangerous weapons at pretty much every position – from Wes Welker and Deion Branch on the outside to beast tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in the middle.

A huge question in Baltimore this week has been “how will the Ravens deal with the New England tight ends?”

While the Ravens have basically NO linebackers who can be considered strong in coverage, they’ve still somehow managed to have success against opposing tight ends this year. They’ve given up the second fewest yards and touchdowns to tight ends in the NFL this year, and no tight end gained more than 73 yards in a game against them all season. It will take someone much smarter than me to explain that contradiction, but there you have it.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to moderately contain Gronkowski in a 25-17 win over New England earlier this year, and they did so by matching a rookie cornerback – not a linebacker or safety – on Gronk. As I said in my interview with Foxboro Blog earlier this week, I think the Ravens would be well served by doing the same thing with their own rookie CB Jimmy Smith. Smith is big and physical, and is probably the Ravens’ best bet to match up with the size and speed of the second-year tight end. The question is whether or not the team trusts a rookie to cover such a key cog in an explosive offense in the most important game of the season.

Pittsburgh also got physical with the Patriots at the line, specifically cornerback Ike Taylor on Welker. Personally, I’d put Lardarius Webb on Welker all afternoon; Webb has been the Ravens’ best corner all year, and seems to be peaking here in the postseason based on his two interceptions last week. The Ravens don’t typically match up their corners though, so it will be interesting to see how Chuch Pagano decides to try to attack New England.

Brady is undoubtedly one of the best ever, but he’s struggled against the Ravens. In his last four games against the purple and black, he’s managed just six touchdown passes while throwing six interceptions and being sacked 12 times, for a quarterback rating of 72.1. Compare that to his career rating of 96.9 against the league’s other 30 teams, and it’s obvious that he’s just not able to do the things he’s comfortable with against this Baltimore defense.

The Patriots defense, on the other hand, takes a lot of heat for giving up tons of yardage – 31st in the NFL. However, they were just 15th in points allowed, so you have to think that a lot of that yardage was due to the fact that teams were frantically trying to catch up to New England on the scoreboard after falling into an early hole. Still, after the defenses the Ravens have faced this season (10-2 against the teams that finished in the top 10 overall), going up against the Pats should be like swinging a baseball bat after taking the donut weight off; that is to say, much easier. There is no reason to expect the struggles they experienced a week ago against Houston to carry over to Foxboro. The last time Flacco went against this Patriots defense, he was 27/35 (77%), for 285 yards, 2 TDs, 0 turnovers, and a 119.3 quarterback rating. Similar success will be critical on Sunday.

I haven’t picked against the Ravens this season – while I’ll freely admit I’m a homer, I also honestly believed that every time they took the field, they had the talent and personnel to win the game. This time is no different. Sure, the Patriots have the pretty stats, but the fact is that they’ve only played two teams with winning records all year (three, if you want to count the now 9-9 Denver Broncos), and they lost both of those games (again, 1-2 if you count the Tebows). The Ravens, on the other hand, are now 7-0 against teams that made the postseason. They’ve proven they can hang with – and beat – the league’s best squads.

Sunday is another chance to do just that, and while it should be a nail-biter to the end, I believe they will.

Ravens 27 Patriots 24

GOOBVISION – Ravens @ Patriots AFC Championship Preview

January 18, 2012

Late January and Goob is still making Ravens preview videos (hopefully this will be the second to last, as opposed to the last, of the year). This time he takes aim at Tom CryBrady, Massholes, and wonders if Bernard Pollard has any more Pats-killing mojo left.

Discount on "Money in the Bank" Shirts from Maryland's Team

January 18, 2012

The latest great design from Maryland’s Team commemorates the Ravens’ undefeated 2011 at M&T Bank Stadium. An 8-0 regular season and 1-0 in the playoffs now gives the Ravens’ the NFL’s longest home-winning streak at 11 games. Celebrate by showing that wins in B’More are “Money in the Bank.

As always, Nest readers get a special discount!

When you check out, enter code BMBNMoney, and they will take $1 off the already discounted price of $9.

Pretty sweet deal. So head on over and save yourself some money of your own. Maybe put it in the bank?

Podcast with Foxboro Blog

January 18, 2012

Last night I was a guest on “Kickin’ it With Keeler,” a podcast hosted by Ricky Keeler of Thanks to Ricky for having me on to talk Ravens/Patriots in the AFC Championship game. You can listen to the entire podcast below (I’m on from about the 45-70 minute marks).

Listen to internet radio with Whats Brewin on Blog Talk Radio

Ed Reed Calls Out Ravens Offense

January 17, 2012

As if the fan base (or at least a very vocal minority of it) wasn’t already uneasy enough entering Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts, we have a key member of the defense now basically calling out the offense.

In comments to Adam Schein and Rich Gannon of SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday, Reed had the following to say (disclaimer: these comments are from the Pro Football Talk “distilled” version. PFT loves to make issues where there are none, so there could definitely be more context here that they are conveniently omitting):

“I think Joe was kind of rattled a little bit by that defense,” Reed said.  “They had a lot of guys in the box on him.  And, I mean, they were getting to him.  I think a couple times he needed to get rid of the ball.  I don’t know how much of the play calling, he could have made audibles or anything like that, checks or whatnot, man, but it just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense, you know, of times past.  You know, it was just kind of like they was telling him to do, throw the ball or get it here, you know, get it to certain guys.  And he can’t play like that.

“You know, one particular play that sticks out to me is when Ray Rice came out of the backfield, he got pushed down and [Flacco] still threw him the ball and you got one-on-one with Torrey Smith on the outside.  But it’s hearsay for me.  I can say that sitting on the sidelines, you know, or sitting in the stands.  You just never know what somebody else is seeing.”

Reed also called out the line, a little.

“[T]he offensive line gotta block better,” Reed said.  “You know, they gotta communicate better, gotta pick up blocks, Joe’s gotta get the ball out of his hand.  We gotta do a good job of using our weapons.  I think Ricky Williams should have had the ball a little bit more yesterday.  You know, I mean, Ray Rice was running it, too, but you gotta be able to mix those guys in back and forth.  It’s a lot of things that we all need to correct going into New England because they do such a great job of making adjustments, you know, in-game adjustments.  It’s not just coming up with a scheme and playing the game.  You gotta be able to make adjustments while the game is in the flow.”

There are a couple ways to take this. Ed could be simply showing his offense some “tough love,” challenging them to raise their game this weekend.

At the same time, though, it seems like a very weird time for even tough love, especially publicly. Ed Reed is my favorite Raven of all-time, but I can’t deny that good things rarely come out of his mouth when he opens it up and spouts off over the last few years. He’s always been a goofy guy, and the timing of these comments is nothing if not goofy.

On top of that, what exactly did he want Joe to do? Aren’t quarterbacks who “just get rid of the ball” willy-nilly exactly the kind of player that have boosted Ed’s interception stats throughout his career?

And even if his intent was – as some may suggest – to have called out the coaches or offensive line more than calling out Joe, still, what’s the point? Do it in the building, not on some radio show.

The Ravens won the game. And while they’ll undoubtedly need a much-improved offensive effort on Sunday, they’ll also need to protect the ball as they did against Houston (0 turnovers).